Business and politics are complaining about a blatant shortage of skilled workers, especially in the MINT sector, in mathematics, IT, natural sciences and technology. This is not least due to the fact that women are still significantly underrepresented in these professions.
Studies and professions in the STEM field are still clearly dominated by men. MINT stands for mathematics, computer science, natural sciences and technology. The number of female first-year students in STEM courses has “almost doubled” in the past decade, according to the online portal recently academics, which describes itself as a “job market and career companion for academics who want to find their own way”. However, a look at the total numbers – from 59,599 in 2008 to 119,134 in 2019 – shows that women are unfortunately still significantly underrepresented in the STEM sector, regardless of whether they are studying or later working.
Only about a third of students in STEM subjects are female
According to the Federal Statistical Office, around two-thirds of a total of 172,087 first-year students in the 2021/22 academic year were male. The same applies to the total number of STEM students. Of the 1,090,804 students in total, 347,195 were female, just a third.
In 2021, it was hardly any different for doctoral students. Here, doctoral students clearly outnumbered female doctoral students in almost all MINT subjects, in mathematics, computer science, physics, chemistry, earth sciences, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and information technology, in some cases even in a ratio of 5:1. Only in the field of biology were the female doctoral students ahead with 8237 to 5564. In pharmacy, the ratio was at least almost balanced.
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It seems almost mathematically logical that this trend will then continue or intensify when entering professional life. It is worrying that around half of all women who have studied a MINT subject never work in a MINT profession later on. A study by the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research quoted by Academics shows that while 70 percent of men who studied in the MINT field work in a MINT profession five years later or have worked at least once, the figure is only 56 for women Percent.
The number of women in technology is slowly growing
The percentage of women who actually work in MINT professions only increased in small doses between 2013 and 2019, from 14.4 to finally 15.5 percent. This is proven by the “STEM Report 2021“ by Anger, Kohlisch & Plünnecke (German Economic Institute) with reference to the Federal Employment Agency. And as at universities, it is also evident here that women are significantly more strongly represented in scientific professions, such as biology, at 37.5 percent than in the fields of electronics, computer science, information technology, etc.
Another statistic, this time from the online platform, confirms the fundamental underrepresentation of women in MINT professions, or the stagnation of the proportion of women at a low level extra from 2022. It shows the proportion of MINT academics in Germany from 2011 to 2019. The rate for female academics was 20.2 percent in 2011, gradually increasing to 23.4 percent in 2018, only to fall back to 22.6 percent in 2019. And the situation is even worse for female specialists in the STEM sector. In 2019, the percentage at 10.8 percent even fell below the level of 2011, when it was 11.6 percent.
A study by the Federal Employment Agency, based on all women in MINT professions (academics and specialists), shows a slight increase from 14.4 percent of the total of 7,300,000 employees in 2013 to 15.4 percent with the current 7,920,000 employees in 2018 out. In total, this means an increase from about 1.05 million women in STEM professions in 2013 to about 1.22 million five years later. The ratio between MINT men and MINT women is even 7:1 here.
And this discrepancy becomes even clearer if you put the mentioned 15 percent in relation to the overall labor market. In 2018, 45.7 percent of all employees were women, and by 2021 this number had risen to 46.8 percent.